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Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder (formerly called manic depression) is an illness that causes strong mood swings between depression and “mania”. This can interfere with work and relationships.

In a manic episode, you may think fast and do things quickly. It may seem like you are getting a lot done. At first, this may feel very good; but in the extreme this can lead to a lifestyle that is disorganized, chaotic, and includes risky behavior (spending sprees, sexual acting-out, or drug use). In later stages, it may affect eating (no interest in food) and sleeping (unable to sleep for days at a time). Speech may speed up and become difficult for others to understand. You may appear to others as if you are in your own world.

In a depressive episode, you may feel a lack of interest in normal activities. Sometimes there is sadness or guilt without any clear reason. Thinking may become slow and there can be a lack energy or feeling of hopelessness. Some people have thoughts of harming themselves at this stage. Thoughts can even turn to suicide.

Between these two phases you may actually feel okay. This does not mean that the illness is gone. People with this disorder will usually have to treat it all of their life. Medication and good care can greatly reduce the symptoms.

The exact cause of this illness is unknown. However, there is a genetic link that makes a person more likely to get this problem. Also, the use of drugs such as speed (amphetamine) and cocaine increase the chances of this illness appearing.

Home Care:

  • Be sure to take your medicine even if you think you don’t need it.

  • Talk with your family about your thoughts and feelings.

Follow Up

with your doctor or therapist as directed by our staff. They can help you to find ways to improve your life. For more information: The National Alliance on Mental Illness 800-950-6264.

Get Prompt Medical Attention

if any of the following occur:

  • Feeling like your symptoms are getting worse (depression, agitation, excess energy)

  • Unable to eat or sleep for more than 48 hours

  • Feeling out of control (racing thoughts, poor concentration)

  • Feeling like you want to harm yourself or another

  • Being unable to care for yourself


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